Category Archives: Aluminum Upcycled

Preorder Aluminum Upcycled from Johns Hopkins University Press

zimringpostedThis year, Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing my book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective. It is available for pre-order now, with shipping this month. From the press:

Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015. 

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. He also provides a historical perspective on contemporary sustainable design practices. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Raising fascinating questions of consumption, environment, and desire,  Upcycling Aluminum is for anyone interested in industrial and environmental history, discard studies, engineering, product design, music history, or antiques.

Coming in 2017: Aluminum Upcycled.

zimringpostedThis year, Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing my book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective. It is available for pre-order now, with shipping sometime in February. From the press:

Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015. 

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. He also provides a historical perspective on contemporary sustainable design practices. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Raising fascinating questions of consumption, environment, and desire,  Upcycling Aluminum is for anyone interested in industrial and environmental history, discard studies, engineering, product design, music history, or antiques.

This was a fun book to research, allowing me to combine discussions with my colleagues at Pratt with explorations of many “covetable” goods, including furniture by the Eames Office, Herman Miller, and Emeco, vehicles by Ford, Honda, Porsche, and Aston Martin, and guitars by Travis Bean, John Veleno, Wandre Pioli, and Kevin Burkett’s Electrical Guitar Company (among others).

I plan on giving a few talks about the book this spring. If you would like to schedule one, contact me at czimring “AT” pratt “DOT” edu.

The end of a book.

It may be my training in history, or my love for a well-written obituary, but when I get deep into writing a book I start thinking about how close to a finished product the book would be if I got hit by a truck today.

“Is this pretty much in shape so readers will have a good idea of what I was trying to do?”

“Could an editor clean up what remains? What do I want to change?”

This week, those morbid questions are put to rest on Aluminum Upcycled. I have corrected the proofs and approved the index. Images are in place, as is the cover. Whatever trucks have in store, this book is as I intended it. Thanks to all at Johns Hopkins University Press as they prepare Aluminum Upcycled for 2017 publication.

zimringposted

Upcycling History Talk in Kalamazoo, Sept. 29

zimringpostedI’m spending time this month reviewing the galleys of my forthcoming book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective. At the end of the month, I will discuss aspects of the book at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. (Since some of the book covers Herman Miller’s work down the road, WMU is an appropriate place to discuss upcycling.)

“The Road to a Zero-Waste Future Through the Past? Sustainable Design Strategies in Historical Perspective”

Environmental historian and author Dr. Carl Zimring will explore “upcycling” (transforming discarded material into goods of elevated worth). Starting with aluminum, and its history in Michigan, this presentation will roam through the centuries and across the globe, landing on adidas’s recent plan to turn oceanic plastic garbage into upscale running shoes.

WHERE: 1028 Brown Hall, WMU
WHEN: Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
COST: FREE